SPRING FROM THE WINTER SOUL

“Life” [Roger Waters says] “is not a rehearsal. As far as we know, you only get one shot, and you’ve got to make choices based on whatever moral, philosophical, or political position you may adopt… You make choices during your life, and those choices are influenced by political considerations and by money and by the dark side of all our natures. You get the chance to make the world a lighter or darker place in some small way. We all get the opportunity to transcend our tendencies to be self-involved and mean and greedy. We all make a small mark on the painting of life.”

“The bright side, according to Waters, is “the potential that human beings have for recognizing each other’s humanity and responding to it, with empathy rather than antipathy.” Accordingly, the very first words sung on The Dark Side of the Moon are “Breathe, breathe in the air/ Don’t be afraid to care.” But why should anyone need to be encouraged to care? What are the pressures of life that might make a person afraid (or otherwise unable or unwilling) to care about life and its existential responsibilities?”

YEAH! Some recent existential questions of mine, which I put to my father: “Why should I write?” [Dad: “you can answer that.” “Why should anyone do anything when the world is already perfect?” “Why strive when you can make money doing the most basic, menial jobs?”"Why should we strive for success and fame and money, when so often those things destroy so much goodness in people?” (Dad: “Sometimes and some people. Not you.”) Okay. Cool.

Thankfully, I have great thinkers and music makers before me who wrote down their journeys for people like me to take heed of. Ah, the crumbs of those questing adventurers past. I sniff them out like inspiration itself. The following from a chapter by David Detmer (also above) called “Dragged Down by the Stone: Pink Floyd, Alienation, and the Pressures of Life” in a book called Pink Floyd & Philosophy:

“Pink Floyd’s message is one of least resistance – resistance to the forces of indoctrination and conformity, as well as resistance to the artificial barriers that separate “us” from “them.” More specifically, the band urges us to resist those who would persuade us that money is more precious than time, that commerce is more important than creativity, that spectacle is more valuable than communication, and that competition is more important than empathy. Indeed, according to Pink Floyd one of the keys to coping successfully with the alienating pressures of modern life is the reversing of these value judgments.

“But the most important key is simply to think for oneself. Don’t let others (even your favorite rock band!) decide for you what is true, valuable, and important. For if you think for yourself (and are not afraid to care), you have a chance to lead a richly meaningful life as an autonomous person. But if you don’t, you run the risk of ending up, like so many others, as just another brick in the wall, dragged down by the stone.”

Better lighten up then! I have also adored reading this book recently, called The Inner Game of Music, by Barry Green with W.Timothy Gallwey, Pan Original, 1986. (See also The Inner Game of Skiing, I kid you not!)  and while I’m not a professional musician, this book is strangely relatable. My writing has been called ‘a bizarre form of music’ before, so perhaps that was why, when the following passage ejected itself from the page towards me, I felt, well – like the writer had reached STRAIGHT into my brain and started talking, from black marks on old yellowing pages, to me, to us, to you.

“There’s something behind what I’m telling you in this book: There’s a feeling I’m trying to express, and another feeling I’m trying to draw out of you by way of response. It’s the sense that your own real musicianship needs to come through, past the chatter of Self 1 and any problems with technique, and express itself. The drama, the energy and stillness in the music need to come through. If, from the moment you start to learn a piece, you can keep in mind what it is that you are playing, how it will sound, and what feeling or meaning you want to express, these sounds will emerge in the quality of your performance. You need to invest your hours of discipline with a clear knowledge of your ultimate destination – to re-create the very essence of the music.

That’s the meaning behind my writing this book – the ninety per cent of the ‘music’ that’s between my notes. Your real goal is to transmit an experience of music. Behind and beyond the arpeggios and pizzicatos, the plectrums and the reeds, the rosin, hammers and valves: incredible, unbelievable music.”

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4 Comments

  1. Henry
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    “These quick electric keys are my Instrument, my harp, my RCA glass tube microphone, and my fine soprano saxophone all at once. That is my music, for good or ill, and on some nights it will make me feel like a god.” – HST

  2. Henry
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    “These quick electric keys are my Instrument, my harp, my RCA glass tube microphone, and my fine soprano saxophone all at once. That is my music, for good or ill, and on some nights it will make me feel like a god.” – HST

  3. Dan Ouellette
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Did anyone ever tell you that “you think or feel too much…”? Not that I would ever say such a thing, mind you… I don’t know you well enough!!

    My mother, when she is frightened by me, often reverts to her education, psychology… to peg me a manic depressive… someone who feels too much, she’ll say to me.

    Sometimes however, after exchanges with you and/or after reading your blog I feel we share this aspect. The ability to channel that energy (whether it be an illness or a talent… I’ll leave that distinction to the psychologists) is the hardest part of feeling and/or thinking too much. The capacity to arrange it into another form, takes immense courage. To shut out the false internal parasites which seek to feed on that energy and instead promote the courage it takes to create without regard to the value systems, seeking greed, fame or success… is one of life’s greatest challenges, I think.

    To create something which no one may ever appreciate… or millions may adore… necessitates that an artist refrain from allowing the “value” of that to overwhelm oneself, and step off into a lonely place of immense potential.

    Ever read Gurdjieff?

    “Gurdjieff’s system, which involved music, movement, dance, and self-criticism, enabled the unrealized individual to transcend the mechanical, acted-upon self and ascend from mere personality to self-actualizing essence.”

  4. Dan Ouellette
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Did anyone ever tell you that “you think or feel too much…”? Not that I would ever say such a thing, mind you… I don’t know you well enough!!

    My mother, when she is frightened by me, often reverts to her education, psychology… to peg me a manic depressive… someone who feels too much, she’ll say to me.

    Sometimes however, after exchanges with you and/or after reading your blog I feel we share this aspect. The ability to channel that energy (whether it be an illness or a talent… I’ll leave that distinction to the psychologists) is the hardest part of feeling and/or thinking too much. The capacity to arrange it into another form, takes immense courage. To shut out the false internal parasites which seek to feed on that energy and instead promote the courage it takes to create without regard to the value systems, seeking greed, fame or success… is one of life’s greatest challenges, I think.

    To create something which no one may ever appreciate… or millions may adore… necessitates that an artist refrain from allowing the “value” of that to overwhelm oneself, and step off into a lonely place of immense potential.

    Ever read Gurdjieff?

    “Gurdjieff’s system, which involved music, movement, dance, and self-criticism, enabled the unrealized individual to transcend the mechanical, acted-upon self and ascend from mere personality to self-actualizing essence.”

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